Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MAMMA MIA - Let Yourself Have Fun!

Mamma Mia GroupYikes, I've been away from the blog for awhile! You know how summer is... trips to see family, things to do with the kids (or in my case, KID), and let's not forget summer movies.

Over the weekend I saw one of the most hyped films of the summer, Mamma Mia! Based on the hit Broadway musical, which was written around the music of seventies super-group, ABBA. The theater was packed and I was surprised to see almost as many men as women. Maybe their wives/girlfriends drug them there. Or maybe they just wanted to see if James Bond could sing. Who knows? At any rate, this movie is kind of a bad news, good news proposition. Let's start with the bad news.

Sorry, guys, James Bond can't sing. This isn't a big deal, because neither can most of the cast, but poor Pierce Brosnan is the least vocally proficient of the group. Okay, that's it for the bad news.

The good news is that there's more good news than bad news! Mamma Mia! is a true, no-apologies musical, which means people break into song and dance down the street at will, picking up locals as they go. And this is the true joy of the movie. It doesn't matter that the vocal performances aren't up to typical musical theatre standards. If you stress over that kind of thing, this movie isn't for you. It's for anyone who ever danced around their bedroom, singing into a hairbrush. If you ever wished life came with a soundtrack, and people really could dare to break into song and dance in the middle of the street - and I know I've wished that - then this movie is for you.

Mamma Mia PosterThis is one of those movies where you realize the cast probably had a ton of fun making it. Every one of them gamely takes on their character, committing to the ridiculousness of the situation. Remember Pierce Brosnan? The great thing about him is that you know he knows he can't sing... but that's okay. I will say, I found myself wishing he and Colin Firth could have switched characters. Firth, a loveable sad-sack who's proven quite good at comedy, has a surprisingly sweet singing voice, although he doesn't get to use it much. It would have been nice to hear more from him.

Meryl Streep plays Donna in a manic, over-the-top fashion that would be completely unbelievable in any other venue. But this is a broad, let's-have-fun musical, so it works. When she and her pals, played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, run through the town singing Dancing Queen picking up Greek woman as though they are the Pied Piper and her Piperettes, it's a truly joyous moment. I dare anyone to watch that and not feel happy!

The musical exception here is Amanda Seyfried who plays Sophie, the young woman who invites her three possible fathers to her wedding. She's got a very nice pop voice and delivers probably the most believable performance of the group, meaning she acts exactly like I'd expect a 20-year-old to act.

If you're looking for a summer flick that's nothing but pure fun, check out Mamma Mia!


windycindy said...

Just the mention of "Mamma Mia" and the song stays in my head forever! Thanks for your take on the movie. I appreciate it! Cindi

Jennifer AlLee said...

I guess I should have put in a disclaimer that when you leave the movie the songs will be permanently imbedded in your brain! Seriously, I've been listening to my ABBA Gold album (which I already owned) all week.